Warning! SPOILERS ahead for Star Trek Discovery.
Alan van Sprang - who plays Captain Leland in Star Trek: Discovery - has admitted he spotted the similarities between his character's arc and the Borg. The second season of Star Trek: Discovery has focused on the threat of Section 31, a covert branch of Starfleet who have unwittingly created a dangerous artificial intelligence that's on the verge of wiping out all sentient life in the cosmos.
Captain Leland has been a key part of the story. A major figure in Section 31, Leland was introduced as a shady figure who was willing to cut any corners in order to meet his own inscrutable goals. Star Trek: Discovery gradually peeled away the layers of his character, with one twist even revealing that he was responsible for the apparent deaths of Michael Burnham's parents. Then, in a shocking twist, he was apparently assimilated by Control, the rogue AI. The similarities between Control and the Borg were striking, and led to some suggestions that Discovery season 2 is secretly a Borg origin story.
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In an interview on the official Star Trek website, Alan van Sprang has admitted he noticed the similarities between his character's arc and the Borg. An old-school Star Trek fan, he was understandably enthused at the idea.
"When I first read the script I thought, 'Oh, is this the making of the Borg? Is that how it happens?' We're as much in the dark as anybody else, but as soon as I saw that, I thought, 'This is like The Borg.' The Next Generation's Borg episode just blew my mind [when I watched it originally], let alone when Picard became Locutus. That's the first thing I thought of, which kind of tickled me to no end. Wow, I'm just going to milk this for all it’s worth.'"
It sounds as though Discovery's showrunners like to keep the actors in the dark when it comes to the show's overarching plot. According to Van Sprang, the cast typically go script-for-script, with absolutely no idea what's coming next. Initially, he thought Leland was a protagonist who would only be in a couple of episodes, and was surprised at the part expanding in a rather more sinister direction. While he now views Leland as a very manipulative, ambitious figure, he does insist that he was never an antagonist. Of course, now he's essentially the embodiment of Control, he's literally the main villain of season 2.
However, the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, "Through the Valley of Shadows," seemingly disproves the theory that Control will become the Borg. It revealed that Control's modus operandii may look similar to the Borg, but it's actually very different; Control actually kills its targets, and then uses nanotechnology to replicate them. Burnham and Spock made the grisly discovery when they stumbled upon Kamran Gant, an apparent survivor of one of Control's acts of homicide, but in reality part of a trap laid for them by the ruthless AI.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that there's no indirect link between Control and the Borg; it's known that Control will become completely genocidal after exposure to data collected on artificial intelligences by an ancient sphere, data that is now stored on the Discovery. The sphere had spent millennia traveling the cosmos collecting this information, so perhaps that included knowledge of the Borg, and the Collective inspired Control's monstrous goals.
Source: Star Trek
Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays @ 8:30pm on CBS All-Access and internationally the next day on Netflix.